Spring Statement 2019: some calm in the chaos

13 March 2019

Squeezed in the middle of key Brexit votes, the Chancellor was undeterred by the chaos, and delivered a calm and collected Spring Statement. Given the pressing work around Brexit, it is no surprise that the brake has been pulled on tax policy making for now.

Despite the points set out below summarising some of the key publications and announcements, this Spring Statements has been relatively quiet with the Chancellor keeping his pledge to not make significant tax changes. The next fiscal event should be in the autumn, unless of course there is an emergency Budget to deal with the aftermath of Brexit or as a result of a general election. Given the current state of play, this could be a realistic prospect. 

The key points to note:

The government has published a couple of papers, one on tackling tax avoidance, evasion and other forms of non-compliance and another setting out the strategy for offshore tax compliance. If anyone thought the government had been inactive in this field they'd be proved wrong by Annex A of the first document. 

In a similar theme the government has also published some research to evaluate the changes in corporate behaviour following the introduction of corporate criminal offences. 

Draft legislation has been published on the structures and buildings allowance (first announced at Budget 2018), following long standing calls from the business community. 

The digital economy was mentioned in the Chancellor's speech, and it seems as though the UK's digital services tax policy will work in tandem with the regulatory and competition reviews announced to ensure the digital economy works for everyone's benefit. 

On the admin side, making tax digital will not be extended to other taxes in 2020. However, the VAT making tax digital initiative continues to have effect next month (April 2019). 

In the coming months the government will publish the following (some of which were trialed at Budget 2018):

  • a consultation to prevent abuse of the R&D tax relief for SMEs
  • a call for evidence on Insurance Premium Tax to ensure it operates fairly and efficiently
  • findings and recommendations for VAT administration in the Isle of Man
  • draft regulations and guidance on the offshore receipts from intangibles
  • draft regulations to update regulatory capital definition for hybrids
  • draft regulations on employment allowance restriction
  • call for evidence on VAT partial exemption and capital goods scheme
  • a report on the time limits for recovery of lost tax and the rationale for the charge on disguised remuneration loans
  • summaries of the responses to recent consultations
  • a consultation on CGT private residence relief
  • a call for evidence on the use of social investment tax relief and approved fund guidelines for EIS.
Today I have delivered the Spring Statement to the House of Commons. This Written Ministerial Statement provides more detail on some of the announcements in the Spring Statement, and sets out details of other forthcoming government policies.